How to Plan the Perfect Proposal with a Photographer

Surprise beach proposal during twilight hour with lanterns

If you’re reading this blogpost, you’re probably planning on proposing to the love of your life – and I am here for it!!

There are so many factors that go into planning a surprise proposal, and I know that often times, you’re already so nervous about how exactly to propose that it’s hard to think about any other details, better yet how to also maintain that element of surprise – so I’m here to tell you from the photographer’s point of view what I usually tell people who reach out to me asking to capture the moment for them.

To keep things gender-neutral throughout this blogpost, I’m going to assign the title Person A as the person proposing (and the one hiring the photographer) and Person B as the person who will be proposed to 🙂

Let’s pretend you’ve already nailed down all the details of the actual proposal moment, and now it’s about how exactly the photographer comes into play. I usually ask the question:

Do you want me to already be introduced as the photographer for a couples session between you two (Choice 1)


Would you like me to be kept hidden from Person B until you’ve popped the question? (Choice 2)

That usually narrows down how the whole proposal process will go!

Pros of Choice 1

  • This is considered the “easy” option due to the fact that there doesn’t need to be any secrecy in terms of the photographer being kept hidden all the way up to the big moment.
  • A good choice to consider if the proposal will be in a wide open area where it’s hard for the photographer to hide.
  • Because we’ll already be taking photos of the two of you, it’s easy to make up a pose that has Person B turn around so that Person A can go down on one knee to propose.

Pros of Choice 2

  • It’s much less obvious that you’re going to propose since you can plan out your proposal in a more organic way as if there isn’t a hired photographer involved.
  • Since Person B has no idea there’s a photographer, if you two are private people or you plan to keep your proposal as a private moment with just the two of you, then it’s more likely that Person B will let out their true emotions with less hesitance because they don’t know they’re being captured.

Cons of Choice 1

  • If your partner is onto you and already has some sneaking suspicions, nothing makes it more obvious that you’re going to propose than saying “I know we never get photos of the two of us, so I hired a photographer out of the blue to take pictures of us!”

Cons of Choice 2

  • There has to be more coordination between you and the photographer in the sense that we’ll have to plan where exactly the photographer will be vs where you two will be so that your partner’s reaction can be shot at the right angle to perfectly capture their reaction while still being kept hidden.

Whichever choice you decide, I also ask these following questions:

  • Where specifically do you plan to pop the question?
    • For example, if we settled on photographing at the National Cathedral, would you like to pop the question in the Bishop Garden or by the stone steps?
  • How would you like to moment to be initiated?
    • For example, if you decide Choice 1, how would you like me to give you the opportunity to go down on one knee?


If you go for Choice 1

If you decide to go for Choice 1, which is having me already introduced to the two of you at the beginning as your photographer, then most of the planning comes down to the prompt you’d like me to give you to initiate that moment.

For example, after we’ve warmed up into the couples session and we’ve already taken some photos of the two of you together, I will slowly guide our shoot towards the specific spot we’ve agreed on in order to have the background you really want for that official proposal moment. Then I will give a prompt like “Alright, now I’ll have you face this way, and when I say go, Person A will run up behind you to tackle you from behind.” Person B will turn around at that point (and they’re usually pretty oblivious to what’s about to happen next because at that point during the shoot, I’ve already given you both a bunch of silly prompts chasing each other around and twirling everywhere haha). I’ll give Person A the signal that I’m ready for them to pop the question, I’ll wait for Person A to give me back the thumbs up, and then I say “Actually, never mind, we’ll do a different pose. Can you turn back around?” Then the moment happens! There’ll be different variations to the prompts, of course, so this is just an example of one of them.

If you go for Choice 2

If you decide for Choice 2, which is for me to be kept hidden until the moment you’ve proposed, then most of the planning is down to coordinating where we will both be standing when the moment happens. After you’ve nailed down the main location of where we’ll be meeting, when we’re having our consultation call, we’ll talk more in details about where exactly you would like to propose based on what background you would like and how well hidden I can be in order to get the right angle to perfectly capture your partner’s reaction. Depending on the location, we may even meet up at that location so we can know, first off, how we both look (my worst nightmare is another couple who also coincidentally plans to propose on the same day and same time and I end up photographing the wrong couple LOL, although that’s never happened before) so we don’t accidentally run into each other as you’re guiding your partner to the designated spot. Meeting up beforehand can also help us to brainstorm the plan together by walking through the location and process in person if the plan calls for it.


Now we celebrate!

Whichever way we go about that surprise proposal, what matters most is that they say “Yes!” ? So everything that comes afterwards is an emotional mix of happiness and celebration, and I will 100% capture all of that!

I recommend bringing props to make everything more fun, because why not go all out for such a special moment in both of your lives?! Some ideas I recommend are:

  • Champagne bottles to pop!
    • I recommend bringing 2 in case the first pop is a flop.
  • Sparklers
    • If you go to your local fireworks warehouse or something similar to that, they will have sparklers made specifically for weddings and would be about 3-4 feet long, which is best for photos since they last much longer and appear larger for photos.
  • Luxury picnics
    • Nothing tastes sweeter than a luxurious picnic experience after all the photos are done! I can help with finding just the right vendor in the local area for this.
  • Lanterns
    • These props are best for if your proposal is done at sunset, so that when blue hour comes in, we can get some beautiful twilight photos to end the photo shoot with.

There are so many other ideas that you can do, and my job is to let you know what you don’t even know you don’t know. Surprise proposals are exciting, and capturing that moment is memorializing you two’s journey into the next special chapter of your lives together. There’s truly no wrong way to go about all this, so I also don’t want the above choices seem like they are the only way to go about surprise proposals – it’s whatever you want it to be and whatever calls the most out to you two as a couple. So as cheesy as this sounds, as long as you both had fun, the experience will be one for the books.

For Joseph’s surprise proposal to Kenna, he had already intricately planned out how he wanted the proposal to go before he had reached out to me, so that once we have officially booked, it was all about tying the loose ends together to make it work perfectly.

His plan was to bring her to Long Key beach, which was a special location to the two of them. Because he didn’t want her to know where she would end up going to, he pretty much blocked all of her senses LOL – putting on noise-cancellation headphones on her so she wouldn’t hear the beach waves, blindfolding her, and then lastly giving her a piggyback ride so that she wouldn’t feel the sand on her feet as they walk up to the proposal spot. He propped her on the chair where he had set up a video he edited with a poem he wrote about her. At the end of the video, Kenna finally turns around to see him down on knee under the arch that he made with his family. Obviously, she said yes ?❤️


The Journal


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join our email list and download our free guide to whatever you can offer your clients of value!! 

It's like being first in line